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1.  Transcriptional and Metabolic Insights into the Differential Physiological Responses of Arabidopsis to Optimal and Supraoptimal Atmospheric CO2 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43583.
In tightly closed human habitats such as space stations, locations near volcano vents and closed culture vessels, atmospheric CO2 concentration may be 10 to 20 times greater than Earth’s current ambient levels. It is known that super-elevated (SE) CO2 (>1,200 µmol mol−1) induces physiological responses different from that of moderately elevated CO2 (up to 1,200 µmol mol−1), but little is known about the molecular responses of plants to supra-optimal [CO2].
Methodology/Principal Findings
To understand the underlying molecular causes for differential physiological responses, metabolite and transcript profiles were analyzed in aerial tissue of Arabidopsis plants, which were grown under ambient atmospheric CO2 (400 µmol mol−1), elevated CO2 (1,200 µmol mol−1) and SE CO2 (4,000 µmol mol−1), at two developmental stages early and late vegetative stage. Transcript and metabolite profiling revealed very different responses to elevated versus SE [CO2]. The transcript profiles of SE CO2 treated plants were closer to that of the control. Development stage had a clear effect on plant molecular response to elevated and SE [CO2]. Photosynthetic acclimation in terms of down-regulation of photosynthetic gene expression was observed in response to elevated [CO2], but not that of SE [CO2] providing the first molecular evidence that there appears to be a fundamental disparity in the way plants respond to elevated and SE [CO2]. Although starch accumulation was induced by both elevated and SE [CO2], the increase was less at the late vegetative stage and accompanied by higher soluble sugar content suggesting an increased starch breakdown to meet sink strength resulting from the rapid growth demand. Furthermore, many of the elevated and SE CO2-responsive genes found in the present study are also regulated by plant hormone and stress.
This study provides new insights into plant acclimation to elevated and SE [CO2] during development and how this relates to stress, sugar and hormone signaling.
PMCID: PMC3423350  PMID: 22916280
2.  Growth Performance and Root Transcriptome Remodeling of Arabidopsis in Response to Mars-Like Levels of Magnesium Sulfate 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12348.
Martian regolith (unconsolidated surface material) is a potential medium for plant growth in bioregenerative life support systems during manned missions on Mars. However, hydrated magnesium sulfate mineral levels in the regolith of Mars can reach as high as 10 wt%, and would be expected to be highly inhibitory to plant growth.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Disabling ion transporters AtMRS2-10 and AtSULTR1;2, which are plasma membrane localized in peripheral root cells, is not an effective way to confer tolerance to magnesium sulfate soils. Arabidopsis mrs2-10 and sel1-10 knockout lines do not mitigate the growth inhibiting impacts of high MgSO4·7H2O concentrations observed with wildtype plants. A global approach was used to identify novel genes with potential to enhance tolerance to high MgSO4·7H2O (magnesium sulfate) stress. The early Arabidopsis root transcriptome response to elevated concentrations of magnesium sulfate was characterized in Col-0, and also between Col-0 and the mutant line cax1-1, which was confirmed to be relatively tolerant of high levels of MgSO4·7H2O in soil solution. Differentially expressed genes in Col-0 treated for 45 min. encode enzymes primarily involved in hormone metabolism, transcription factors, calcium-binding proteins, kinases, cell wall related proteins and membrane-based transporters. Over 200 genes encoding transporters were differentially expressed in Col-0 up to 180 min. of exposure, and one of the first down-regulated genes was CAX1. The importance of this early response in wildtype Arabidopsis is exemplified in the fact that only four transcripts were differentially expressed between Col-0 and cax1-1 at 180 min. after initiation of treatment.
The results provide a solid basis for the understanding of the metabolic response of plants to elevated magnesium sulfate soils; it is the first transcriptome analysis of plants in this environment. The results foster the development of Mars soil-compatible plants by showing that cax1 mutants exhibit partial tolerance to magnesium sulfate, and by elucidating a small subset (500 vs. >10,000) of candidate genes for mutation or metabolic engineering that will enhance tolerance to magnesium sulfate soils.
PMCID: PMC2925951  PMID: 20808807
3.  Overexpression of the CBF2 transcriptional activator in Arabidopsis delays leaf senescence and extends plant longevity 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;61(1):261-273.
Leaf senescence is a programmed developmental process governed by various endogenous and exogenous factors, such as the plant developmental stage, leaf age, phytohormone levels, darkness, and exposure to stresses. It was found that, in addition to its well-documented role in the enhancement of plant frost tolerance, overexpression of the C-repeat/dehydration responsive element binding factor 2 (CBF2) gene in Arabidopsis delayed the onset of leaf senescence and extended the life span of the plants by approximately 2 weeks. This phenomenon was exhibited both during developmental leaf senescence and during senescence of detached leaves artificially induced by either darkness or phytohormones. Transcriptome analysis using the Affymetrix ATH1 genome array revealed that overexpression of CBF2 significantly influenced the expression of 286 genes in mature leaf tissue. In addition to 30 stress-related genes, overexpression of CBF2 also affected the expression of 24 transcription factor (TF) genes, and 20 genes involved in protein metabolism, degradation, and post-translational modification. These results indicate that overexpression of CBF2 not only increases frost tolerance, but also affects other developmental processes, most likely through interactions with additional TFs and protein modification genes. The present findings shed new light on the crucial relationship between plant stress tolerance and longevity, as reported for other eukaryotic organisms.
PMCID: PMC2791123  PMID: 19854800
Arabidopsis; CBF; longevity; senescence; stress

Results 1-3 (3)